Legendary Ultravox musician and co-creator of Band Aid Midge Ure took to the M4 Business Network’s stage at the Celtic Manor Resort with a call for businesses to step up and support aid work in Africa.

Addressing more than 170 business people at the breakfast networking event, the songwriter shared the story of how Band Aid came to be and why 30 years after the transatlantic concert, he believes businesses must help continue the work he and Bob Geldof began with ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’.

Midge explained that Band Aid first started when he received a call from Bob Geldof. The Boomtown Rat had been watching news coverage of the famine in Ethiopia and wanted to do something about it, but he didn’t know what exactly.

The musician recalled: “After two hours sat around the kitchen table we realised that music was the only thing we could do. So we decided to release a Christmas single and donate the royalties. But, this was in October and we didn’t have a song!”

A short time later the pair had a rough melody worked out and while Midge went off to start recording it in the studio at the bottom of his garden, Geldof started making calls to every pop and rock star he knew.

Midge Ure continued: “We had one day of donated studio time to record the track in London. We didn’t have the chorus written at that point, we didn’t know which musicians were going to turn up – but the media had heard what we were doing and arrived on mass.”

Midge also explained that one of the record’s most famous contributors, Boy George, wasn’t even on the same continent when recording started. He was on tour in New York and wouldn’t have been part of it had Bob Geldof not called that morning and told him to catch the next Concord flight back to London. “He was in the studio by 8pm”.

The single was a hit, but even though every pound it made went to support the aid effort, Midge and Geldof knew that more needed to be done. In a time before mobile phones, or email they relied on a telex to organise two simultaneous concerts either side of the Atlantic. Live Aid was borne.

Midge said the work he and Bob started then was not finished, but that the decline of the music industry over the last 30 years means that it can’t have the same impact it once did.

“Music was a medium that was cool, it was the ultimate platform for us, transcending boundaries and cultures. Free illegal music downloads changed that. When we started the idea of corporate responsibility didn’t exist. Other industries now need to step up, maybe businesses should stop giving bonuses and put that money into making a difference for those who need help.”

Chairman of the M4 Business Network and managing partner of its main sponsor UHY Hacker Young Paul Byett said: “It’s an honour to have Midge join us to share the true story of how Band Aid was created. He is certainly one of the most engaging speakers we have ever had, and few can claim that their work has had such a profound effect on some many people.

“I know every one of our member businesses understands and takes their responsibilities to support the work of charities seriously, but I’m sure that hearing Midge’s talk has reinforced our commitments to do more however we can.”

Future M4 Business Network events will be at the Celtic Manor Resort on May 10, September 13, and November 1.

For further information on becoming a member visit www.m4businessnetwork.org or contact Paul Byett at UHY Hacker Young on 01633 213318.